Friday, March 22, 2013

Doctor Who-The Shakespeare Code

                                   On her first journey in the TARDIS,Martha finds herself and the doctor in 16'th century London,just around the block from the Globe Theater,the home of The Bard himself. Along the way they discover he is to be performing 'Love Labours Won',the long lost Shakespeare play there that night. Upon witnessing the man in action,the pair find Shakespeare himself to be captivated with both of them-especially taking a shining to Martha and the doctor's mention of her mythical home of "Freedonia".  However something strange begins to brew literally. Two people under the Bard's employ both die mysteriously-both of heart related ailments. However all are present when the second death occurs,and Martha clearly sees a witch flying away,confirming the doctors earlier suspicion that these unusual deaths could only have occurred through something in the neighborhood of witchcraft.  One of the peculiarities the doctor notices is that the Globe Theater is designed in the shape of a tetradecahedron

             Shakepere is able to recall a theatrical friend named Peter,who was driven mad by talk of witchcraft and who he himself committed to the Bedlam Asylum. The doctor visits there in order to hypnotize Peter in providing him with answers of what he saw. The coven of witches who were involved in this affair take note of the doctors alien presense and appear before the trio of him,Shakespeare and Martha to kill Peter-at which time the doctor addresses them as Carrionite,a group of ancient aliens dependent on words and symbols in the right combinations to perform tasks. Since this,of course would be interpreted by Elizabethian England as "magick",they have come to Earth to try to set up a colony. Realizing that the Carrioite trio have manipulated Shakespeare into writing specially coded numbers and words that will allow the Carrionite to allow them to use his theater to bring about their invasion of the Earth. At the doctors request,Shakespeare uses his own wordliness to bring upon the end of the Carrionite,at which point they become trapped in their own crystal ball with the doctor and Martha depart-with Elizabeth the first threatening the doctor with beheading upon departure.

            One of the interesting elements of the modern day Doctor Who historical stories is their almost complete relation to an outside alien influence. This succeeds because William Shakespeare,as portrayed in this story,is as inadequate with the spoken word as he is eloquent with the printed word.  There are plenty of pop culture references relating to time travel and witchcraft here as well. The doctor mentions Marty McFly's dissappearance when his family are in danger in Back To The Future and Harry Potter is also referenced (along with J.K Rowling) in the climactic scene with the Carrrionite at the conclusion of the story. This episode is also interesting as it actually makes reference to Martha's racial identity,with the doctor making it abundantly clear that he sees the difficulties that humans tend to place over skin pigmentation as being "political correctness gone made". It's still wonderful to see Martha Jones' wonder and awe at the very idea of encountering The Bard in person,similar to Amy Pond's encounter in Vincent And The Doctor. Overall the story has many pluses,namely of which the time (and space) honored idea that one person's science is someone else's magic.

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